It is written:
1 Corinthians 13:7 (Love)…bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Hope is an interesting thing. The Greek word itself is a picture of beauty, literally meaning “a certain expectation.”
In many ways, our hopes help to define us. We build our lives upon what we “hope” for. Parents provide for their families, having expectation that they will be safe and well; they send them to school and college, hoping that they will succeed and begin building lives and families of their own. A man begins to pursue a woman, having dreams of finding a wife; and a woman humbly and at the same time boldly pursues a man, hoping to find a husband. Together, they build a family, hoping to the future.
Hope is an important part of our Christian faith. We live in hope of Heaven, which is promised in the Word of the Gospel (Colossians 1:5). Our hope lies in the city with foundations, which is not made with hands, eternal in the Heavens (Hebrews 11:10, 13-16; 2 Corinthians 5:1-8). Indeed, the one hope that we enjoy and share together as Christians (Ephesians 4:4-6) encourages us as we live through the trials of this world.
How fitting it is, then, that Paul reminds us that true love has the characteristic of “hope” included within it.
What does it mean, that love “hopes all things?”
Paul uses the word “hope” five times in 1 Corinthians. The first time he uses it, the reference is to the work of preaching the Gospel and in defense of preachers having the confident expectation (i.e., hope) that they will be provided for by God and His people (1 Corinthians 9:10). The second reference is here (1 Corinthians 13:7), and in the same context Paul uses the word in connection with eternity after the Second Coming (1 Corinthians 13:13). The fourth reference is also looking to our eternal hope (1 Corinthians 15:19), and finally the word was used by the Apostle to mention his hope to stay with the Corinthians for a time when he journey there (1 Corinthians 16:7).
It is because of the way that Paul often uses hope in this Epistle to refer to Heaven that many believe this is the primary meaning of the phrase, “love hopes all things.” In other words, they believe that Paul is trying to communicate that an indispensable part of love is maintaining focus on Heaven, and yearning for the things of Heaven. It is the hope that God will provide for HIs people in this life with whatever they need until that Day when He returns to take them to Heaven.
Gardener has this for us:
“The “hope” referred to here is likely the confidence that God will protect the Christian now as they await God’s future eternal blessings (cf. 15: 19; Rom 8: 24–25; Col 1: 4–5). So much of what is faced by Christians in this age is transient and contingent. The faith and the hope of which Paul speaks are neither transient nor contingent as God pours out his love upon us. This is the commitment to Christ crucified who comes in glory rather than to the “wisdom of this age” and the folly of chasing spiritual status markers. The risk that Paul has already “put up with” for the sake of Christ and the “hope” in which he has trusted, even while being persecuted, is only possible as he believes all things and hopes all things.” (Paul D. Gardner & Clinton Arnold, 1 Corinthians (Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament), 573-574 (Kindle Edition): Grand Rapids, Michigan; Zondervan)
Heaven is what makes it all worthwhile, doesn’t it?
Recently, I was studying with a friend about how the Lord declares in Isaiah 57:1-2 that He uses death to remove His people from this world in order to spare them from more suffering that is coming. It is an amazing perspective on death, one that has many consequences if a person will stop and truly consider them. For example, we often are angry with God for letting our loved ones die, knowing that He has the power to prevent such: but what if there was some purpose behind His allowance that we do not see?
Could there have been some sinful difficulty or occasion that would have pulled them away from Him and sent them to Hell? Paul had actually talked about this earlier in 1 Corinthians:
1 Corinthians 11:30-32-For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. 31 For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world.
God was allowing members in the church at Corinth to die. They were Christians who were sinning, and He allowed them to die so that they would not be condemned with the world.
Could it be that there was some far greater tragedy that was coming to our loved ones, that we were unable to see because of our own human imperfections and lack of vision?
I don’t know.
But that’s the beautiful thing about the fact that love “hopes all things.”
Even though WE don’t know and fully understand, we DO know the One Who DOES perfectly know and understand! That is where our hope lies-in Who God is! Because we can trust in God’s character-indeed, in knowing that God IS love (1 John 4:8)-we can have HOPE that even in the most horrible situations, God will take care of us.
Love will make the way.
Thanks to Jesus, we can have hope even in the face of death.
Thanks to Jesus, death will not have the last world.
True love will train us to keep our eyes fixed on Heaven, and to live our lives from that perspective. It will also help us to love others in such a way that this will be the primary goal we encourage them towards.
When I face the difficulties of everyday life, do I try to keep Heaven before my eyes?
When a friend or loved one is struggling with some sin, do I do my best to help encourage them and not lose sight of Heaven?
When I am faced with tragedy and heartache, do I allow myself to trust in God and to have hope in His love, provision, and wisdom?
Love hopes all things.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all. Amen.